I sat in silence in my church office, Thursday evening, cleaning out file folders, unused and expired, and I don’t know when I’ve ever felt so alone. The whole building was empty. Not solely the fault of the virus. It was a summer evening, mine the only ministry scheduled, and no one showed up. There’d been a coworker or two in the building when I’d arrived, late afternoon. We’d chatted through masks. And I had been grateful, at least, for that. A custodian stopped by, briefly, and we discussed locking up. So really, I shouldn’t have been this kind of intensely lonely. But I was.
It was the Caribou meeting, a few hours before, leading to this ache in my heart. We’d gathered for coffee, four of us, my staff team, my friends, and I’d announced my resignation. Cindy knew already, but I wanted to share the news with Jill and Greg before they’d get it in an email, tonight or tomorrow. Trying, for my own sake and theirs, to keep it casual, which in hindsight, is maybe a bit silly. My first conversation with Cindy, I think I started by talking about the weather. Lol. So now I’m giving updates about my family, five adulting sons, the house we’re building, and oh, by the way, I’m making some changes…
Twelve years working as church staff, now venturing into a new season.
I first sensed this might be God’s leading, nearly a year ago, at a conference. Good For All. I’d forgotten all about it until church on Sunday. Singing this song. And remembering. Realizing it was the exact same memory I’d linked in my last blog post, and now, here it is again, full circle.
I will build my life upon Your love It is a firm foundation I will put my trust in You alone And I will not be shaken…*
It was the last song of the last worship set of the conference, and I’d been undone. Moved by all God’s goodness, and all His love, consumed by saying yes to Jesus… fill me with Your heart and lead me in Your love to those around me… Tears flowing, hands to heaven, and not noticing my dozen or so coworkers sneaking out, leaving me alone in my moment, there in the back row of the auditorium. Finally sensing their absence, understanding they’d probably decided to get a head start, on their way back to Minnesota—and I’d be staying an extra night with my kids in Des Moines. And I remember, sensing the Spirit, giving this picture. Them going one way, and me another.
The past several weeks I’ve been revisiting this verse from a Psalm, so fitting:
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.
I know, because I spent years studying and writing my Covenant Story. This “unfailing love” is hesed. His fierce and furious steadfast love, telling His Story. And this prayer that’s never failed. “God, I trust you.”
And then there was Greg’s sermon. Two weeks back, maybe three. He’d talked about miracles and crossing the Jordan, and memorial stones. And later Kyle and I talked about our own miracles, and God’s provision. And right then I knew. It was time. Time to take the next courageous step, dip my foot into unseen water, and show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life…
I have a book to write. Or rewrite. A house to finish building, the hospitality of rest. And family. Five boys, adults, their families, their children. But more than anything, I’m following Jesus. And He IS leading, even if I don’t see all the way to where He’s going.
All of this I try to explain between sips of my crafted press, and Jill’s crying. I tell her, I know, I’ve been there, too. My own heart breaking when coworkers I’ve cherished have announced their resignations, and I look at Jill, and I tell her. “I feel cherished.” And I mean it. We linger there on the Caribou patio until finally we’ve exhausted our conversation. And I don’t realize until a couple of days later, the mental exhaustion of sharing my news. We head to cars, joking about elbow bumps, and COVID. And I head to my office, where I sit alone, and I know what's missing. I needed a hug.